Intracluster age gradients in numerous young stellar clusters
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Oxford University Press
2018 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society
The pace and pattern of star formation leading to rich young stellar clusters is quite uncertain. In this context, we analyse the spatial distribution of ages within 19 young (median t ≲ 3 Myr on the Siess et al. time-scale), morphologically simple, isolated, and relatively rich stellar clusters. Our analysis is based on young stellar object (YSO) samples from the Massive Young Star-Forming Complex Study in Infrared and X-ray and Star Formation in Nearby Clouds surveys, and a new estimator of pre-main sequence (PMS) stellar ages, AgeJX, derived from X-ray and near-infrared photometric data. Median cluster ages are computed within four annular subregions of the clusters. We confirm and extend the earlier result of Getman et al. (2014): 80 per cent of the clusters show age trends where stars in cluster cores are younger than in outer regions. Our cluster stacking analyses establish the existence of an age gradient to high statistical significance in several ways. Time-scales vary with the choice of PMS evolutionary model; the inferred median age gradient across the studied clusters ranges from 0.75 to 1.5 Myr pc−1. The empirical finding reported in the present study – late or continuing formation of stars in the cores of star clusters with older stars dispersed in the outer regions – has a strong foundation with other observational studies and with the astrophysical models like the global hierarchical collapse model of Vázquez-Semadeni et al.
The MYStIX project is now supported by the Chandra archive grant AR7-18002X. The SFiNCs project is supported at Penn State by NASA grant NNX15AF42G, Chandra GO grant SAO AR5-16001X, Chandra GO grant GO2-13012X, Chandra GO grant GO3-14004X, Chandra GO grant GO4-15013X, and the Chandra ACIS Team contract SV474018 (G. Garmire & L. Townsley, Principal Investigators), issued by the Chandra X-ray Center, which is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for and on behalf of NASA under contract NAS8-03060. The Guaranteed Time Observations (GTO) data used here were selected by the ACIS Instrument Principal Investigator, Gordon P. Garmire, of the Huntingdon Institute for X-ray Astronomy, LLC, which is under contract to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; Contract SV2-82024. This research has made use of NASA's Astrophysics Data System Bibliographic Services and SAOImage DS9 software developed by Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
This is the final version of the article.
Available from Oxford University Press via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 476 (1), pp. 1213 - 1223